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Which Blogging Platform is Best? WordPress vs Squarespace vs Blogger

I recently migrated my blog from Blogger to a self-hosted WordPress site and realized that there’s plenty of misconceptions floating around out there about popular blogging platforms.

Before I made the decision to go with WordPress.org, I spent a good chunk of time trialling and testing ALL of my options. Knowing that my next platform would be ‘home’ for awhile, I needed to feel 100% confident that whichever option I chose would help me grow the site – now and in the future.

Given the time it took me to track down unbiased information and test everything out, I thought I’d summarize all of my findings here and give some lucky readers the gift of a few extra hours in their day, otherwise wasted by repeating my own research!

Blogger

This is the platform I was on for the last couple of years – FOR FREE. The thing I really like about Blogger is just that – it’s a super low-risk way to get started. All you need to pay for is the yearly-registration fee for a domain name (mine cost me about $12 with DreamHost for the first year I think) and then you’re off.

Of course, you’re only ‘off’ if you can figure out some basic coding and how to link the domain name, set-up your email address, etc. But I really like learning all of the backend stuff and now that I’m using WordPress.org, it’s a piece of cake!

So if you’re just starting out, and not certain if you’ll be blogging one year from now or just need some time to figure out what designs and functionality will work for you before you invest in a yearly self-hosting plan, I highly recommend Blogger.

If you get easily stressed by having to look at a screen full of HTML code and sorting out CNAME records, then I wouldn’t (unless of course you’re employing someone else to do this for you).

The biggest misconception that people have about Blogger is that it’s somehow not for ‘serious’ bloggers. But if you take the time to learn some basic HTML, there’s really no limit to the designs and functionality you can host on your site. In fact, that’s pretty much the case with any platform: knowing how to code = blogging freedom!

So why did I chose to leave?

Although I learned my way around the backend well enough to create a functional, clean template, it was time for me to move to a platform with better SEO integration, more built-in functionality and the option to use a template I liked, instead of trying to build my own.

Overall, Blogger just became a big ‘time-suck’ at a point when I needed to be focusing on content development and monetization instead of scrolling through lines of code.

Squarespace

A lot of my colleauges use Squarespace and they love it! But, for whatever reason, I just couldn’t get my head around this interface and felt really limited by it.

I also thought I couldn’t integrate my SumoMe (which I’ve since discovered isn’t true) and that was a BIG problem on my end. I use SumoMe to integrate analytics, email subscription and share functionality on my site – it’s one of my favorite tools and I’m not giving it up easily!

Another big issue with Squarespace was the inability for me to customize the look and feel of my site. In fact, the whole point of my move from Blogger to another platform was to be able to do this much more quickly and easily – without limitations or having to spend time on inserting lots of code.

After taking advantage of the free 14-day Squarespace trial, I simply wasn’t convinced that it would save me from having to insert lots of code to achieve the design and functionality that I was looking for. None of the templates really worked for me, and I didn’t want to spend the time figuring out how to customize everything – I already did that in Blogger!

I do think they have amazing customer service though, so if you take advantage of the free trial (which I highly recommend) and like one of their templates, you might be a good fit for this platform.

WordPress.com

Not to be confused with WordPress.org, WordPress.com is chock-full of limitations that don’t come with a self-hosted WordPress.org site. For anyone that isn’t aware, WordPress.com hosts your site, while WordPress.org is basically free software that requires you to purchase a monthly hosting package with your web hosting service so it has a place to live!

Again, the biggest problem for me was the lack of integration with SumoMe – it’s not compatible with WordPress.com sites.

To be honest, I stopped browsing through their templates as soon as I knew I couldn’t use it.

WordPress.org

At the end of the day, I decided use the free WordPress.org software and host my site with DreamHost. I purchased the Chosen Template from Compete Themes to use for my blog, which cost me $99 for a lifetime license and includes one full year of support and all future plugins.

At first, I was terrified about self-hosting (I actually liked not having to worry about servers going down with my Blogger blog) but DreamHost has been amazing. The whole migration went surprisingly smoothly and with the exception of some formatting in my posts that didn’t carry over, everything else looks great.

In fact, I love that all I have to do is download free plugins to increase my SEO functionality, add a form to one of my pages or backup my entire site. I can’t even begin to tell you how much more functionality – and time – that I’ve gained simply by switching to a self-hosted WordPress site.

I was also warned that with WordPress.org that I’d have to rely on an online community to answer any questions because there’s no customer service operated by WordPress.org themselves –WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! I have all of the help I need with DreamHost live chats and the developer of my template answers any question I have within 24 hours.

But if you’re really worried about the lack of support before you decide to go with a self-hosted WordPress site, do what I did:

  1. Sign up for WordPress.org
  2. Browse through their template options
  3. When you find one you like, email with the developer or support team a few times and see how long it takes them to respond, and if you’re happy with the level of service. This will ensure you don’t get stuck without the support you require.
  4. If you find a template that you like, and feel comfortable using the platform, then you’ll need to buy a hosting plan so you can start building your blog! I highly recommend DreamHost

If you’re still unsure about making the move from Blogger to WordPress, please get in touch with me here! I might be able to answer some of your questions or help you migrate and get familiar with your new WordPress site!

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